Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Not Lucky; I Have Good Taste in Men

I was reading a post last week written by a new mom. An exhausted new mom. She was blogging about how thankful she was that her husband helped out around the house and with the baby. How lucky she felt. And her point was well taken by me - she was exhausted and trying to do too much and her husband stepped in and said, "Hey, you don't have to do it all; I'm here to help." That is as it should be.

Is she lucky that her husband recognized she was overwhelmed and expressed his desire to help more? Yes, I think she is. What bothered me though is that several of the commenter's on the post said she was lucky to have a husband that helped out at all - that cooked dinner and cleaned up and fed that baby - and I could not disagree more.

Nelson does not "help" with the boys. He is my partner is raising them. That means that together we feed them and bathe them and dress them and taken them on outings and play with them. Sometimes he does those things alone; sometimes I do. But it's not luck. It's called parenting and it's his job too. I don't feel lucky that he actively parents our children. It's what a father should do and how a father should behave.

And, while I do the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and laundry around here, Nelson participates on those fronts as well. He takes out the garbage, picks up toys, puts away laundry; he does these things without my asking (well, usually) and he does more if I ask.

Again, I don't feel lucky because my husband helps with household chores. It's that status quo around here and I think it should be the status quo everywhere. Yes, I'm home full-time and yes, I still expect him to work around the house. Sure, he's tired after his day at work, but you know what? SO AM I. Nelson will be the first person to tell you that my job is harder than his job. Chasing children and changing diapers and wiping noses and breaking up fights and kissing boo-boos is HARD WORK. It ain't all blogging and bonbons.

I guess what bothers me is that women with participatory partners are seen as "lucky." I just think that's bullshit. I think it is okay for women to expect their husbands (or wives or partners or whatever) to be part of raising children and taking care of the home. I think women should expect it, and women who don't expect it are letting themselves down and not putting enough faith in their partner's ability to contribute to the household and child rearing.

So, no, I do not feel lucky that my husband is and active partner is raising our children and working around the house.

Yes, I feel lucky to have Nelson, but for other reasons. I feel lucky that he is caring and loving and intuitive and that he respects me and accepts me for who I am. I feel lucky that he's handy and can repair most things that break around the house. I feel lucky that he has such a good job and does it so well and is able to provide financially for our family. I feel lucky that even when he is uncertain he still tries to do the right thing.

But the fact that he's an active parent who contributes to our household? I wouldn't have it any other way, and neither would Nelson. I mean, no he doesn't enjoy doing chores (who does?), but he does enjoy parenting our children.

And that is not luck on my part; that's good taste in men.


Heidi said...

Your husband and mine are cut from the same cloth. Sadly, I think it was the end of the bolt as none of my friends have the type of co-parenting husbands we do. Are we lucky to have their help? No - it's they're job too. Are we lucky to have chosen our mates so well? You bet! And I'm grateful every single day.

VandyJ said...

I also have a husband that is my partner. Nick takes an active role around the house. Sure we have our areas where we excel but we overlap in a lot of areas. I appreciate what he does and expect him to help parent our boys. I feel lucky that he is mine and that I had the forethought to snap him up when I did.

Erin said...

If this post had a like button, I would push it a million times! I love the "oh, so jon is babysitting the kids" is watching his children, which is as much his responsibility as mine! we're lucky to have husbands who understand what it takes to be a parent.

Becky said...

Amen. I have thought that so many times. Sadly, I think many women have very, very low standards and expectations for what their husbands will do as parents. I don't know if they learned that as children themselves or what.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I agree on many of these issues except one. I have these stupid standards I set for myself and therefore tear into him if I think he's not helping me enough. His only comeback is, "tell me if you need my help, I'll drop everything." I just don't ask for help.
We both work full time. We both take on the child together, and balance each other well. It's not his fault I put more on my scale than his.
I am lucky. I'm lucky he tolerates my way of thinking. :-)

Mrsbear said...

Wouldn't it be great if it were all blogging and bon bons?

My husband needs the occasional nudge, just because he's oblivious and needs very specific directions at times. Although if there is barf involved, he will swoop in like Superman at the slightest sound of a gag. It's more useful than you'd think.

Anonymous said...

Beloved does his fair share around the house, too. Would he rather not? Sure, but then again, I'd rather not work 80 hours a week in the business he runs...but I do it.

A marriage is not a division of labor - it is sharing a life.

Jan from the Sushi Bar

Michele said...

Amen! In a era when husbands/fathers that helped out with the parenting and the chores were unusual my husband did both and worked. His motto was; his parenting didn't stop with his donation to the cause. Sadly, we know many dads who did.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear (or should it be here here, never sure), well said. I am one of the "lucky" ones and I agree, it's how it should be. I didn't just want him to father them, I wanted him to be a father to them as well.

Amanda said...

Amen to that.

Susanica said...

I couldn't agree more Jenni. This summer while visiting family in another state, we hung out for a bit with a neighbor. The dynamics of that mom and dad's relationship and child rearing was unbelievable to me. It was like watching a really bad sitcom. Believe you me, he totally felt like his wage earning "earned" him a total pass on anything to do with the house and/or kids. I just wish she hadn't seemed to buy into that concept as well. It was painful to watch. -M

P.S. But I still think that both you and Nelson are lucky.

Keely said...

No kidding! I have to 'remind' Paul a lot to do the chore part of the equation, but he's definitely an equal partner in the parenting thing. Sometimes I think he's better at it than I am.

Heather said...

Wish I could figure out how to do a high five through the internet, a head or hip bump...something! This was so well said and I completely agree. I feel like strangling my husband when he points out that I shouldn't be stressed, that he just helped clean up Gia after eating (and throwing half of it on the floor) breakfast. I always throw back at him that he's not helping me, that he is her parent too and what he was doing is something he SHOULD be doing anyway. It drives me insane that during the weekends he makes all these appointments or just walks off to do whatever he has to do while I'm left with caring for our daughter. Not that I don't like caring for her, I do, but it would be nice to not have it be taken for granted that I'm always there and he can mosey in and out when he feels like it. I'm thinking of printing this out and taping it to his forehead! :)

Casey said...

Amen, sister. Jamie and I are 50/50 too with the parenting. It's his fucking job. It's my fucking job too. I've had people say that to me before too, "oh, that's nice that Jamie's watching the kids". Yeah, asshole. He's watching the kids that he made cause he's their father. Spending time with them. Jeez. BUt, Jamie's dad never did shit with any of their three kids so I've seen how it COULD be.

elizabeth said...

I work full time and my husband stays home with our daughter. Ideally we'd both like to have a bit more balance, but this is how it works out while living abroad and being on a working visa for my job. I am sometimes broken hearted that I am "missing" the everyday in my daughters first years and Eric wishes that he could interact with other adults. I would love to stay home more and he would love to work. We both try to be sympathetic and try try try (and sometimes fail) to not be resentful. We live for weekends where we get family time to go to the park, swim at the pool, etc.

OK, so where is the problem??? My Mom in law always tells me how Lucky I am to have my husband so involved with our child. Ummmm...hello!
She actually seems jealous that her son is so involved where her husband didn't take on those same responsibilities 40 years ago.
She goes on and on about all that her son does and how grateful I should be.
Yes, I am happy that your son is such an involved father, but truthfully I would expect nothing less. I also had to learn to trust him in this role as it didn't come completely naturally and we rode out some bumps for the first few months. Look, Mother in law, he does a lot because he loves our child and because this is the path our lives have taken. He would be involved even if he was working, but as the primary care giver, of COURSE he is doing a lot.
Perhaps my father in law should start pointing out to my husband the reverse ridiculous point, "You are so lucky that your wife works so that you don't have to."
Now wouldn't that be the kicker???

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